Thursday 26 November 2009

Sunshine and showers

Well, that was the forecast, and that's what we got. I think this is the first picture I've taken of a rainbow while in the wood. Not much of one, but a start at least - it wouldn't have been possible until recently, as you couldn't see across the yard next door.
We had David Brown, from South East Woodland Archaeology Forum, visit during the day to have a look at some of the features in the wood and tell us what they are - I'll do another post on that in a week or two, once we've had some better weather to get pictures. I think David will visit again as well, to investigate further...

While that was going I spent most of the day splitting logs, catching up with all the stuff we'd felled a few weeks ago. The racks are looking fuller now, but there's still a bit to go.
We also did a bit of general tidying up, sorting out some of the Hazel into different thicknesses, with my Dad picking out a few for making walking sticks.
Tracy got to do some sawing as well, which she was pleased about after spending most of the day wandering round the wood looking at various ditches and backs with David (though she did enjoy that too!).
At the end of the day we popped down to our wood to do a few jobs, and I found that the stream is at last flowing! About a month late, compared to 2008... Anyway, our mini-waterfall is back in the culvert now:
Last but not least, I cut a slice off a sycamore that had been lying on bearers for a few weeks, to see if the wood inside was suitable for my Dad to try some pyrography on, but it has this weird fungal growth going through it already:
I guess Sycamore doesn't last well outdoors!


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Wednesday 25 November 2009

Logs, racks and ropes

We've got my Dad here now, and three pairs of hands make things go faster... You can't miss my Dad in the woods, due to his coat:
Still, it gives me something bright to aim at when felling trees. (joking!)

In the morning we did a bit of general clearing up, Tracy organising various piles of Hazel that had been felled earlier
while Dad and I split and stacked some sycamore logs that had been felled a few weeks ago
I'd not split them earlier as we were racing ahead trying to fell trees as fast as possible, but we've now got the claim year for the conservation grant we have for this bit of work pushed back from 2010 to 2011, allowing us to take more time and get the job done properly.

We got onto felling trees later on, taking down several chestnut stems and converting a number of them directly into stakes to use to build some racks, ready to receive the rest of the logs for storage. Here's a rack for 2m split firewood logs (to be cross-cut in a year's time), with a rack for longer logs behind it, some of them 9'6" in case we fancy making rails for post and rail fencing at some point.
We roped all the trees, as it was pretty windy today. I've remade the end of my rope pole with some stronger metal and it's working nicely now:
We had a nice roaring fire going all day, to burn up the tops of the chestnut, which we aren't keeping. Hopefully it'll still be lit tomorrow morning...
The final job, as dusk approached, was building another rack to store sycamore to season, ready for cross-cutting next autumn:
I expect we'll do a bit more splitting of some the big logs you can see to fill it up tomorrow.


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Tuesday 24 November 2009

Back to the woods

We got back into the woods today, and though we didn't have sunshine, we did at least not have rain! Plenty of wind though, so we had to rope every one of this bunch of sycamore to make sure they fell back into the wood:
Anyway, after a lot of faffing around with ropes and even a winch for one of them, we now have finished that edge:
We're pleased, as we were worried about how those trees were being affected by the recent strong winds, although they did have some shelter from other trees.

My Dad's here to help for a few days now, so we're hoping to make good progress!


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Saturday 21 November 2009

Tree planting

For a long time now we've been wanting to increase the diversity of trees in the wood, and we've finally got round to it. This week we planted 15 assorted native fruit and nut trees (sorry, no chocolate trees to go with them...), scattered through the area we coppiced two years ago. Here's the packages as they arrived, and the wire mesh fence we bought to protect them from marauding rabbits and deer:
Each package had to be opened carefully, although the trees were pretty well packed with straw and shredded paper.
Inside, the roots were individually bagged to keep them moist:
We've chosen sites that get a good amount of sunlight to put them in, and we'll keep the coppice cut frequently near them. For each one we had to dig a hole:
and then get the tree out of its bag and plant it quickly - you mustn't let the roots dry out. Once the tree was in the ground, we spread some of the packaging straw around the base to help keep the soil from drying out, and hopefully slow down the growth of any other plants right near the tree:
While Tracy was doing most of the planting, I got busy with the chainsaw and felled a few trees to make stakes. We needed 60 in total, and although we'd made some a few weeks earlier, we still needed another 30 or so. I felled a few chestnut of an appropriate size, and made lots of piles of four stakes:
We then used the post driver to put the stakes into the ground and fastened the wire fence round them:
This will hopefully keep out rabbits and the worst of the deer. The wood looks slightly odd now with all these little cages in it, and also the adapted milk bottles sheltering self-seeded oak:
Hopefully in a few years we'll be getting some food from them, which we will of course share with the wildlife in the wood - I don't think we get a choice in that!

Autumn is clearly well under way when you look at the trees:
although we haven't had a frost yet - as soon as we do I expect the few remaining leaves will drop off. Autumn has also brought wind and rain, with results like this:
The nearer stool was dead, but as it fell it hit a live one and combined with the force of the wind pushed it over too. We'll fell them both over this winter, and allow the root plate of the live one to settle back into the ground, where it will hopefully recover.

Despite the heavy rain over the past few weeks, the seasonal streams in the wood are still not flowing - this time last year there was a waterfall going into the culvert under our main ride! I guess the ground is so dry from the lack of rain this summer that it is still acting like a sponge...

I'm back to one day a week for my desk job now, and my Dad's coming down to help for a few days next week, so we should be getting a lot done - I just hope the weather isn't too bad!


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Saturday 14 November 2009

Nov 2009 storm at Camber Sands

As you may know, the south of England and Wales have been hit by stormy weather yesterday and today. I thought I'd take a walk on the beach and get some video and photos of the sand storm that is always a result of a wind day here. So, here's the pics, and a video at the end - all taken with my mobile phone, as there was no way I was taking my camera out with this much airborne sand and salt water. Don't forget you can click on the pictures to get a bigger version.

And now for the videos - I nearly got caught by a wave near the end of the first one!


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Thursday 12 November 2009

News round-up

With both of us doing our "desk jobs" full time for the past couple of weeks, there hasn't been much to post on the blog. A few things have been happening though, so here's the news...

A few weeks ago we went to a wood near Ashford for a meeting of local coppice workers, organised by Esus Forestry. It was pretty wet, but fortunately this wood has an "indoors"!
It was a good opportunity to catch up with everyone and hear the latest news in the region.

We did actually get up to the woods a couple of times, but didn't get to take many photos, largely because it's been raining so much! My friend Alex came to visit, and we worked on creating a clearing in his wood so that he can bring his family to camp there in future. We even managed to make a couple of benches from the trees that were felled:
We also spent one day in our own wood, mostly tidying up stuff at our shelter and also making stakes ready for some tree planting we'll be doing in a couple of weeks:
At the end of next week we'll be back in Sweep Wood coppicing, and normal service will resume at this blog! ;-)


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